The Role of Selfies in the Artistic Digital Space

Posted by Brianne Logan On October - 9 - 2014
Brianne Logan

Brianne Logan

I can’t lie to you all about this, nor can I really explain my reasons. Whenever the field gets into one of those spectacular debates about the place of selfies, or photography, or technology in artistic spaces I find myself gleefully watching it all unfold on twitter, reading the resounding “no way” opinions penned by, often British (to my delight), art historians, or the “experimentation is healthy for forward motion” responses written by the more digitally native arts marketers among us.

I find the fear of the archetypal selfie-snapping hordes of visitors—of course, besmirching the integrity of fine arts experiences with dumb poses–to be such a fascinating thing. The issue has raised real questions for the field on what it means to be present in an artistic space. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the point of marketing the arts?

Posted by Amelia Northrup-Simpson On October - 9 - 2014
Amelia Northrup-Simpson

Amelia Northrup-Simpson

I recently started teaching a graduate-level arts marketing course. When I was first handed the materials from the last time the course was offered, I immediately began sorting through to determine what would be useful to students learning the basics of arts marketing.

Something was missing, though. The only time the previous class had addressed money was toward the end of the course to discuss budgeting.

While managing a budget is an important skill, the role of revenue is a much larger part of an arts marketer’s job.

The way I see it, an arts marketer has two basic objectives:

Objective #1: Bring the arts and audiences together

Objective #2: Take responsibility for marketing revenue goals Read the rest of this entry »

Dashboard Co-op’s Outreach Strategy

Posted by Beth Malone On October - 7 - 2014
Beth Malone

Beth Malone

Audience is something we think about every moment. How are viewers engaging with our exhibitions? How are they responding to the organization’s methods of outreach? Are they even showing up in the first place?

From very early on, Dash has had a large outpouring of community support. My partner and I are both Atlanta natives and were lucky enough to leverage relationships we had with press, artists, and musicians in the city. As we continued to grow within our mission, we cultivated (and continue to cultivate) a solid, committed constituency. Efforts to engage an audience outside the traditional art-viewing public such as university students and faculty, small businesses, and city government, paid off. Quite literally, we were networking – meeting with leaders in these industries to explain our work and ask for their support via their own promotional tools like social media, web links, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Being David in a Goliath World: Finding Your Place in the Marketing Noise

Posted by Rachel Ciprotti On October - 7 - 2014
Rachel Ciprotti

Rachel Ciprotti

The ancient story of David, a young man who defeated the giant Goliath using only a small stone and a slingshot, is an apt metaphor for the situation most (perhaps all?) arts organizations find themselves in these days. The marketing world has become entirely fragmented, with hundreds of different channels competing for the attention of every consumer – that means every potential audience member. We are all inundated with emails, ever-multiplying social networks, television, radio, print, digital magazines, review sites, event sites, crowdfunding, discount ticket sites, etc, etc.

How can we cut through the clutter? How can we get our message across when the channels are overflowing with behemoth corporations spending the equivalent of our yearly operating expenses on a month’s worth of Facebook ads? Read the rest of this entry »

Engaging Audiences in the Mobile Moment

Posted by David Dombrosky On October - 7 - 2014
David Dombrosky

David Dombrosky

Mobile device adoption and usage is a global phenomenon with over 4.5 billion mobile users worldwide. In the United States, smartphone adoption has exceeded standard cell phone ownership by nearly 2-to-1. We no longer use our phones to simply make calls and send text messages.  We use them to explore our world. Anything we experience can be recorded, researched, and shared from the palms of our hands – anytime, anywhere.

As our adoption and usage of mobile technology has grown, so have our expectations for engaging with the world around us at a moment’s notice. Researchers at Forrester define this as the mobile mind shift “the expectation that [we] can get what we want in our immediate context and moments of need.” Read the rest of this entry »

Tapping back into lost audiences

Posted by Rachel Grossman On October - 6 - 2014
Rachel Grossman

Rachel Grossman

You know that question, “how do we build new audiences without losing current ones?” Here’s a thought exercise for you: what if you flipped it, reframed the question? What if you prioritized the audience you’ve already lost, rather than the audience you might lose?

That’s right: you’ve already lost audiences. Point of fact: there’s a giant pool of audience members that you’ve never had–never even knew you existed–that you’ve left out or even actively displaced because of choices you and your organization have made over time. And continue to make. Read the rest of this entry »

Kick Your Content Up a Notch with Multimedia

Posted by Raheem Dawodu On June - 5 - 2014
Raheem Dawodu

Raheem Dawodu

Caitlin Holland

Caitlin Holland

Earlier in this blog salon, we discussed the ten ways you could improve the website you already have, as well as the ways you could  create engaging content for your website.

In both of those posts, we briefly highlighted the use of multimedia – graphics, video, animation, audio – as a way to make your content more interactive.

But, what is multimedia? And what is the best way to use it to tell your organization’s story? Read the rest of this entry »

5 Documents You Need for a Successful Website Redesign

Posted by Danielle Williams On June - 4 - 2014
Danielle Williams

Danielle Williams

We’ve already talked about how important it is to do your due diligence when taking on a website redesign – figuring out your audiences, securing buy-in from your leadership, selecting good partners and vendors, the importance of quality content for your website – and we’ll be diving in deeper later in this blog salon about working with staff to create and revise quality content.

As you continue to bring together all these great resources, it will be helpful to compile them in a format that will be useful to your team and your vendors. During our website redesign, we ended up creating a number of documents that helped us fully scrutinize and contemplate all of our options. No stone was left unturned, which helped our stakeholders feel more comfortable with some of the drastic changes we were suggesting. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Artists: The Need to Reach Wider Audiences

Posted by Rosalind Flynn On March - 13 - 2014
Rosalind Flynn

Rosalind Flynn

Everyone I know who works as a teaching artist has amazing success stories of student learning experiences with, through, and in the arts. There are stories about reaching the “unreachable” student, motivating whole groups of resistant learners, creating breathtaking products, deepening understandings about curriculum subjects, and engaging the minds, bodies, and imaginations of young people in extraordinary ways.

This is great stuff. This is the kind of information that should be shared.

  • How do effective Teaching Artists get the results we get?
  • What are our methods?
  • What precisely do we do in a class session or series?

We know that what we do works and we know why it works. But are we sharing this information with a wide enough audience? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry »

Participation is Power

Posted by Amanda Bohan On October - 10 - 2013
American Museum of Natural History Whale Tweetup

American Museum of Natural History Whale Tweetup

The National Arts Marketing Project Conference is just over 1 month away and I’m thrilled to be both attending and speaking for the very first time. But what I’m most excited about is the theme: “Powered by Community.” Already, I’ve met so many amazing new people online through the conference Twitter hashtag (#NAMPC) and the Linkedin group. And meeting these people has reinforced just how powerful the online world can be in forging meaningful, long-lasting relationships.

Furthermore, it has reminded me how crucial participation is to the success of an event, beyond just the act of attending of course. So I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite examples from arts and culture organizations who have successfully encouraged their audiences to participate on a deeper level:

  1. American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Tweetups: AMNH understood the significance of Twitter from an early start. Since 2010, they’ve been holding special tweetup events that offer a behind-the-scenes look at various exhibits. Most recently, they held the Whales Tweetup, allowing visitors to view whale specimens and listen to whale vocalizations after hours. And prior to Whales, they invited guests to explore Our Global Kitchen , where guests enjoyed wine, chocolate, and cooking lessons, all while tweeting. These Tweetup events result in hundreds of tweets, with the potential to reach thousands.
  2. Diablo Ballet’s Crowdsourced Ballet: At the beginning of 2013, California-based Diablo Ballet asked their Facebook and Twitter followers to suggest ideas for a brand new ballet by tweeting to their page, using the hashtag #DiabloWebBallet. Followers were asked to suggest the theme and mood of the piece, as well as specific dance moves, ultimately resulting in the creation of the first-ever crowdsourced ballet. Read the rest of this entry »

What Your Audience is Actually Looking For

Posted by Sara R. Leonard On October - 9 - 2013
Sara R. Leonard

Sara R. Leonard

A few weeks ago “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” was making the social media rounds. The album was inviting and eminently repost-able, but days after reading it, one of the points was still nagging at me. “Number two: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.” A similar mantra could be useful to those of us marketing the arts.

There’s just one thing: it’s not quite right.

The problem is that it’s actually rare for those of us who work in the performing arts to resemble our typical audience members. And it’s even less likely that our interests as audience members will align with the interests of those who aren’t currently attending events at our organizations. Last year I wrote about the perceptual and psychological barriers that keep audiences away. Just as those of us who work in the arts tend not to think enough about those barriers to participation, it often doesn’t occur to us that prospective audiences might attend a performance for reasons quite different from ours.

Read the rest of this entry »

Working with Public Transit to “Transport Opera Audiences”

Posted by Doug Tuck On October - 8 - 2013
Tuck-resized

Doug Tuck

Vancouver Opera recently received a grant from OPERA America’s Building Opera Audiences initiative, funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, to help us address three major audience-development challenges:

  1. The lack of opportunities for potential audiences to sample opera, in programming that will give people an affordable, accessible “first step” between no involvement with us and the purchase of a ticket to a mainstage performance. The best seat to an opera is the highest priced ticket in town, with the exception of decent seats at a Canucks game, so you can see our problem. A normal first step is in fact a leap, of both faith and investment.
  2. The vast untapped audiences in outlying municipalities, which are home to culturally diverse populations with little familiarity with the art form and little inclination to explore it. Metro Vancouver’s demographics are continuing to shift rapidly. Very soon, those whom we have traditionally called “visible minorities” – mainly people hailing from Asia and South Asia – will be the majority.
  3. The practical obstacle to attendance in the form of distance from those outlying areas to downtown Vancouver and our opera house.

We have devised a two-part project, which begins in February 2014. In part one, we’re going to transport opera to this untapped audience, by producing affordable sampler concerts in popular community venues: “400 years of opera in 75 minutes” or “Opera’s Greatest Hits”. In part two, we’ll sell them discounted tickets to a mainstage opera (rendering their sampler concert ticket effectively free). At the opera house, they’ll be “transported” by Mozart’s Don Giovanni or Verdi’s Don Carlo and become instant and lifelong opera lovers.

That, at any rate, is the plan. But here’s the cool part: an optional mode of transport downtown will be on specially arranged “Opera Trains.”  We’re working with our regional transit authority to create programming in the departure stations and on board the Skytrains while they ride downtown. They’ll get a pithy and playful introduction, with music, over the P.A. system, or on their smart phones, to the performance they are about to see.

There will be a splashy media launch, we’ll “wrap” Skytrain cars with all sorts of branding, we’ll give draw as much attention as we can to opera and our transit partners, and it will be a transporting experience for everyone.

Stay tuned. I’ll report later on how it goes.

Doug Tuck will be presenting the following sessions at our National Arts Marketing Program Conference November 8-11 2013 in Portland, Oregon:

Let’s Explore: Engagement

Posted by Melanie Harker On October - 8 - 2013
Melanie Harker

Melanie Harker

I am an arts explorer. Investigating ideas, pursuing new bits of information, engaging in conversation, or listening to the buzz around me; I thrive on discovering new perspectives and navigating new concepts. Through much personal exploration, I have realized what I loved most about the theater was not performance (I hold a degree in Acting) but instead the art/artist/audience community that surrounds all art in general. As a twenty-something arts professional, I have decided to dedicate myself to the pursuit of all ideas encompassing this fascinating intersection.

A couple of weeks ago I saw this New York Times (NYT) op-ed, “High Culture Goes Hands-On” by Judith Dobryanzki. In it, Dobryanzki makes the case that museums are trying too hard to create space for “visitor engagement” which augments (even tarnishes) the purpose and reputation of museums; “It changes who will go [to museums] and for what.” She even adds in a follow-up article on her personal blog that, “Art museums are… luring visitors by giving them participatory art experiences rather simply providing them with the opportunity to experience viewing glorious works of art.” While this piece references the museum world, I would like to challenge this community of arts marketers to think about its broader impact and how its claims can map directly to all arts audiences.

Linda Essig responds to Dobryanzki’s point of changing “who will go and for what” on her Creative Infrastructure blog. She writes, “That, it seems to me, is a good thing.  Arts organizations have for years been decrying their declining and graying membership and subscription bases.  If visitors change and visitors change their expectations, perhaps the sound of membership rosters circling the drain will not be so loud.”

Deborah Markow, in contrast to Essig, responds with a letter to the NYT editor agreeing with Dobryanzki, and makes the case that creating visitor engagement opportunities (like meeting the artist or interactive art installations) is not the way to help the public “appreciate and feel at ease in the presence of the great art of the past.”

As I read about all of these heated and contrasting ideas, I saw that words such as “activation,” “engagement,” and “participation” were being dropped into a bucket of full of buzzwords. Over the past two years of working for various Washington, DC theaters who are all energized by the support of their community*, I have come to know these words beyond their empty buzzword-y shells. Read the rest of this entry »

The User Experience of Your Space

Posted by Allison Houseworth On October - 7 - 2013
Allison Houseworth

Allison Houseworth

In the hours before Barry Hessenius’ Dinner-Vention this past September, Devon Smith wrote a post in which she asked “What if an arts organization employed a user experience designer?” As defined by Wikipedia – the dictionary powered by community – User Experience Design is “any aspect of a person’s interaction with a given system, including the interface, graphics, industrial design, physical interaction, and the manual.” Apple is the best example of a company that excels in the area of UX design. Everything they create is based on user experience – your iPhone, its packaging, the stores themselves. But how do arts organizations embrace the user experience?

For the last four years, I have taught a course called “Audience Engagement: In Line and Online” to MFA Theatre Management and Producing students at Columbia University. (You can follow us on Twitter at #AlliClass.) Each semester we discuss “Service Mapping,” which is identifying each touchpoint the audience member has with your organization from the moment they decide to go to the theatre to the moment they get home. We start with exposure, move on to research, purchase, and include moments like entering the venue, exiting the venue, pre- and post-show activities. Traditional tech-world UX designers – and often arts marketers! – will focus often on the two stages of service mapping we call “research” and “purchase.” This is where we analyze how easy is it for your customer to find what what’s playing, when, where, and how to buy tickets. Where I see arts marketers – and yes, arts fundraisers, producers and programmers too – really struggle is when we bring the audience into our home – “entering the venue,” “getting to your seats,” “intermission.” Once the audience gets in the door your job is not done. Your audience is, in perhaps not the kindest of terms, held captive. They are, more positively, your captive audience. So what are you going to do with them? Read the rest of this entry »

Bringing Backstage Onstage with Social Media

Posted by Kelly Page On April - 18 - 2013
Kelly Page

Kelly Page

Imagine, if we saw social media more like an artist’s studio or cafe and less like a marketing channel?

While walking through the exhibit, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects at the Arts Institute Chicago last November, I felt like I was seeing into the private design space of the architect.

The exhibit was an installation of an architect’s studio with concept drawings, full-scale project mockups, material samples, and photographs of completed work that now form part of the Chicago city skyline. This exhibit was a celebration of the work of the artist behind their city stage.

The work of the artist backstage, however, many don’t experience. The space is unorganized and cluttered; the work in progress, being constructed, deconstructed, is unpredictable and incomplete. This is why many artists and arts managers do not openly bring backstage onstage and into the public eye—because it is messy.

Imagine for a moment, however, if we did?  Read the rest of this entry »